"I Just Love This Place — I Really Do"
Derek and Liz, along with their two teenage children, proudly call Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Cannon Place their home. Previously homeless for four months, the family faced difficulty as they spent time living with friends, in hotels, and out of their car. “We went through a lot of stuff with being homeless,” Derek, who is a veteran, recounts. “It put a lot of trauma on all of us.”
Referred to Mercy Housing Lakefront, the family applied for housing with the expectation of a five-month wait. However, with frequent status updates from the property manager, they were able to move in after just one month. Liz remembers fondly, noting, “That was the best call ever.” Derek, in agreement, adds, “That was the first domino in fixing our lives.”
Once they were housed, Derek obtained disability benefits with help from the VA, which was the next domino allowing the family to pay bills and increase their self-sufficiency. “The sense of security has really helped our mental health a lot,” Derek explains. With secure access and front desk staff, the family appreciates the protection and peace of mind that their new home affords. “I feel so safe here,” remarks Liz, recalling how the family previously lived with only a car door separating them from the outside world.
For this family, Cannon Place represents an opportunity to start over and to address challenges, as Derek offers, “without the fear of losing their home.” Recently, the couple married and chose Cannon Place’s common room for their wedding venue. “It’s pretty in there, and we had the beautiful gazebo out back ... It felt right to do it here,” Derek explains.
Without college degrees of their own, Derek and Liz are prioritizing their children’s college education. They also dream of the day when they can start their own business. “We are working on ourselves and rebuilding our foundation ... All of this could not have been made possible without this place,” Derek states. “I just love this place – I really do.”
The sense of security has really helped our mental health a lot.
— Derek, Mercy Housing Lakefront Resident
Since late 2016, Cannon Place has provided 65 affordable, supportive homes to low-income veterans and their families, who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, in Danville, Illinois. Located on the campus of the VA Illiana Health Care System, Cannon Place provides supportive services for veterans and their families through the VA and an onsite MHL Case Manager, as well as in partnership with local community organizations.